2016 Hyundai Elantra GT- Kimchi with Euro Fusion

thumbnail_image16“Whoa Cowboy!” You may exclaim.  “You already tested this generation Hyundai Elantra way back in 2013.  What’s the point of testing the hatchback version?”  While it’s easy to dimiss the Hyundai Elantra GT as being just an Elantra with a humpback, it’s not quite that simple.  Sure, the two share the same engine and most Hyundai dealers will group the sedan and hatch together in the same corner of the sales lot.  But unlike the sedan which was designed from the get-go for the Korean and American markets, the hatch was intended for European consumers and is based on the German-engineered Hyundai i30.  There’s enough of a unique, Euro flavor in the GT that it was worthy of its own separate review.

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2013 Hyundai Elantra- The Secret Recipe For Success

DSCI0274Kimchi is the national dish of Korea.  The Seoul specialty is fermented cabbage smothered in garlic, hot pepper, ginger and other pungent ingredients leading to an intense flavor.  It’s an interesting dish, but when it comes down to it; it’s still just cabbage.  The Korean-sourced Hyundai Elantra has been like that since its introduction in 1992; prepared from basic ingredients and spiced up with valued-packed pricing and a generous warranty.  At first the flavor suits the palate, but the taste doesn’t linger.  Not to say the Elantra is a bad car at all.  In fact I’ve bought two of them in the past partially due to the bargain price and was very satisfied with them.  And here lies the issue, although the Elantra has always been a competent and decent little car, there was little beyond the sticker price to recommend over other compacts if you were looking for a set of wheels with character.  When the all-new fifth generation Elantra debuted for 2011, all of that changed.

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2013 Hyundai Sonata- The Underdog Strikes Back

DSCI0138Maybe it’s a personal preference, but I’ve always had an affinity for the underdog.  You know, the guy that has all the odds against them- who will more than likely walk away in shame and defeat.  I cheered when the New York Giants won the Super Bowl in 2004.  Was overjoyed when the little engine that could…. really could.  And cried when Urkel went to the prom with the love of his life, Laura Winslow.  Okay, maybe I didn’t react to any of those events (would I really confess to it if I did?), but I’ll admit to always having a soft spot for Hyundai.  The spunky Korean automaker that arrived on US shores in 1986 with affordable and cheery little cars that were cheap as chips but later garnered a reputation of bad quality.  The perceived quality was so bad that Hyundai almost fled out of the US market.  Unlike other automakers in similar situations, such as Alfa Romeo, Yugo, and Fiat, Hyundai tenaciously clung on and offered improved products and generous warranties to qualm any reliability fears.

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2012 Hyundai Santa Fe- To The Moon And Back

DSCI1209In the Summer of 2000, my parents and I were  actively looking for a cheap set of reliable (used) wheels for my upcoming college years.  Like many in that same situation over the years,our quest sent us on a pilgrimage  to the local Hyundai dealer.  While checking out an Elantra, my mother’s attention was diverted by a shiny vehicle across the showroom floor and she exclaimed “what’s that!?”  “That” was the all-new for 2001 Santa Fe, Hyundai’s first attempt at an SUV.  Previously known for selling cheap, cheery economy cars, the Santa Fe represented a new chapter for the manufacturer.  The automaker wanted to be taken seriously and couldn’t do so without a truck in its stable.  But Hyundai isn’t one to shy away from risks, and looked to outer space for inspiration for the first Santa Fe.  Instead of the traditional outdoorsy look, that Santa Fe had love-it–or hate-it bulging fenders, a gaping grill, and a spaceship like interior. It begged for attention and the gamble paid off.  My mother eagerly bought one, which she still owns to this day.  And she wasn’t alone, Hyundai couldn’t keep up with demand and it quickly became their best-selling vehicle in the early 2000’s.  The stage was set for Hyundai in the 21st Century.

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2012 Hyundai i20- The Revolution Begins In Sriperumbudur

It’s no secret that Hyundai is on a roll in the US.  Starting with the redesigned 2010 Sonata, the company has gone through a renaissance with a continual surge of all-new products in the last two years that offer lofty fuel economy figures, daring styling, and a long-time Hyundai favorite; aggressive pricing and an industry-leading warranty.  Consumers have noticed and sales increased 29% in 2011 over an already successful 2010.  Gone is the stigma that Hyundais are cheap, cheerful cars that disintegrated soon after being purchased.

The car you see in these photos was not part of that resurgence.  At least in the US it wasn’t.  It’s called the i20, and although it may not be a car that will ever see American soil, it still plays a very important role for Hyundai.

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